26 Aug 2013

Could this FWD hatchback save Jaguar from the merciless EU?

With EU emissions regulations getting ever tighter might Jaguar only be able to save itself by building a small, front wheel drive hatchback?

The European Union.  Maker of rules that often defy logic which are often ignored by many constituent nations but that us Brits seem to have to obey to the letter - however uncompetitive they make us.

By 2020, all car manufacturers which produce more than 300,000 cars per year will have to have an average CO2 level of 95 g/km across its range.  That's just a bit less than a current Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost.

Jaguar currently builds less than 300,000 cars per year, but by 2020 it aims to be beating that by having expanded its range to include a BMW 3-Series rival and an SUV or two.  Plus, the XK and XF will be revised.  None of these cars fits into the sub-95 g/km bracket, precisely because Jaguar is a premium brand.

But the monolithic EU do not like premium brands.  Mercedes have Smart, BMW have Mini.  Jaguar have no-one but the even more polluting Land Rover.  Therefore, by the EU's reckoning, they must either buy a company that makes small cars or make small cars themselves.

And it just got worse.  Post 2020 targets will be set by the EU next year - with a target of 68 to 78 g/km.  Even an electric car generates 75 g/km of CO2 (from the creation of the electricity it consumes).

Anything that burns fossil fuel is going to struggle - even with Stop/Start, cylinder shut down etc.  But smaller cars have a better chance of hitting the target which, remember, must be an average across the range.

Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ferrari, Maserati all have get out of jail free cards by both being part of wider groups and by producing less than 300,000 cars a year.

Jaguar does not have such a privilege.  They will have to make a small, front wheel drive hatchback - or be exterminated by the EU's bureaucracy.

Happily Ian Callum is already thinking about the challenge this would pose, but is also realistic about the commercial reality of it.  He told Autocar:

"As a designer, I’d love to create a small car with Jaguar’s name on.  But I have lots of projects I’d like to do — and few expectations of there being a business case for them"

Autocar created this render of a potential small, Jaguar hatchback.
Small Jaguar hatchback render
Even the Germans are getting in a tizzy about the EU's proposals. BMW boss Norbert Reithofer described them as, “entirely political aspirations; technology analysis and feasibility have nothing to do with it."

Reithofer said, "tens of billions of euros," had already been spent attempting to hit the 95g/km target and warned that the European car industry didn’t have the strength to further drive down average CO2 below EV-equivalent levels. Trying to build such cars could ultimately be unprofitable and hobble the European industry in its attempts to compete with global manufacturers not subject to the same rules.

The British car industry in the 70s and 80s was ruined by militant workers, idiotic management and complacent governments.  It has done a fantastic job of reviving itself and we now have one of the world's best and most efficient workforces, some wonderful designers and seemingly efficient managers and owners.

Let's hope complacent and idiotic government does not bring it back down to the bad old days.

Article by Matt Hubbard

Render and quotes: Autocar
Tip to @BuddaPSL